Evaluations show 48 of Vick's dogs have placement potential

Updated: October 2, 2007, 2:45 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- Only one of the remaining 49 pit bulls seized from a home owned by NFL quarterback Michael Vick at the outset of a dogfighting investigation should be euthanized.

Animal advocates
hope for best

Now that a motion filed in U.S. District Court claims the overwhelming majority of pit bull terriers seized from a dogfighting operation bankrolled by Michael Vick need not be euthanized, animal welfare advocates are hoping for the best outcomes for the dogs.

But they are warning that future placement of the animals must be carried out thoughtfully.

"I wouldn't say I'm necessarily surprised," said John Goodwin, deputy manager of the Humane Society of the United States' campaign against animal cruelty. "This has been a case where there's been a pretty big spotlight on it. I think there is a lot of public sentiment that wanted the dogs to do well."

"They've been through a terrible situation. We hope there is a ray of sunshine for them," Goodwin said. "We just hope people exercise caution and proceed with great care so they don't end up hurting another animal or [end up] living a lonely life in a kennel run."

Shonali Burke, a spokeswoman for the ASPCA, said the organization "will go to great lengths to make sure the dogs are going to be placed in the right situations to provide the best quality of life for them."

"There have been a lot of steps so far to make sure these dogs have been treated well and humanely," she said.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Elizabeth Merrill

That was the finding by a team of dog behavorial experts assembled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to test the dogs.

According to a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court, the dogs fall into five categories that include eventual adoption and specialized training for law enforcement work. Some of the dogs either exhibited fear toward people or suffered from a medical condition.

The motion doesn't indicate how many dogs were placed in each category other than to suggest one, identified as number 2621, is an immediate candidate for euthanasia because its aggression toward humans made a complete examination unsafe.

According to the motion, the dogs were put through a protocol of 11 exercises to evaluate their behavior toward humans and other animals.

The ASPCA had no immediate comment on the filing, and the U.S Attorneys Office handling the dogfighting case said it would have no additional comment.

The motion also requests that the court appoint a guardian to oversee the disposition and possible placement of the 48 remaining dogs.

The motion new goes before U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, who is handling the dogfighting case. He can either grant it with all its provisions or deny it.

The animals were among more than 60 dogs seized by local authorities during a raid of the Surry County property owned by Vick in April. They have been held in animal shelters in the area since.

Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges are to be sentenced before the end of the year. They each face up to five years in prison.

The four also all are due in Surry County Circuit Court on Wednesday to be arraigned on local charges, for which they could face from one to 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press